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Raised By Wolves First Reviews: Ridley Scott's New Sci-Fi Series Is 'Fascinating' but 'Inconsistent,' Critics Say

The series offers all of the android goodness and dystopian world-building you'd expect from Scott, but clunky character development and the slow-burn narrative may be a hard sell for some viewers.

by | August 28, 2020 | Comments

Do androids dream of having kids? That seems to be at least one of the questions that Raised By Wolves, the new Ridley Scott–executive produced series coming to HBO Max in September, is asking. Created by Aaron Guzikowski (the writer of Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners) and starring Amanda Collin and Abubakar Salim as Mother and Father (the main robots in question), the show takes viewers to a distant planet in the far-off future where a new synthetic-led human civilization is in the making.

Mother and Father try to live a solitary life, cultivating an atheistic society, but the threat of humanity and its theology, looms nearby. The Mithraic is the perceived enemy and this neo-puritanical religious space army might be all that’s left of Earth’s population. Vikings alum Travis Fimmel is at the center of this plot, and it’d be easy to identify his character, Marcus, as the villain. But Raised By Wolves subverts expectations, leaving the viewer to question which side of this struggle is worth rooting for: the well-intentioned, yet thoroughly lethal robot parents or the possibly misguided human zealots looking for a new planet to call home?

As he did with the likes of Blade Runner and Alien, Scott puts his signature sci-fi world-building skills to use here and directs the show’s first two episodes. But is the HBO Max series a hit? Here’s what critics are saying about Raised By Wolves.


AMANDA COLLIN’S MOTHER STEALS THE SHOW

Amanda Collin in Raised By Wolves
(Photo by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max)

Collin approaches her role as Mother in a unique way that equals Alicia Vikander’s role in EX MACHINA and Rutger Hauer’s in BLADE RUNNER. Mother is an android with warrior-like skills and abilities that make her a powerful weapon. She alone can rival the entirety of the Mithraic faction and yet she shows a lot of vulnerability as she protects not only her son Campion (Winta McGrath) but several other children as well. — Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Network

Mother is a fearsome figure, and Collin plays her with tightrope terror: She’s a new god, an anxious mom, or maybe just a broken appliance stumbling toward obsolescence. — Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly


THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Raised By Wolves
(Photo by Coco Van Oppens/HBO Max)

When Mother and Father do things that make no particular internal sense, you can at least excuse it with, “They’re androids and they’re weird.” It’s less easy to pass off how consistently inconsistent and weakly developed every other character in the series is. As much as I appreciate Guzikowski’s willingness not to overly explain the Mithraic religion or the dystopian world that led to humanity fleeing Earth, it’s astonishing how dull Marcus, Sue and everybody else on the ark are. — Daniel Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

As with most aspects of “Raised by Wolves,” these characters are too derivative to compel, and extraordinarily frustrating from a show that purports itself a true novelty. A show that can’t find more uses for women than “wife” and “mother” isn’t one that’s thinking even halfway outside the box, let alone lightyears beyond our earthly orbit. — Caroline Framke, Variety


THE SCIENCE VS. RELIGION THEME IS A BIT POLARIZING

Travis Fimmel in Raised By Wolves

The conflict between rationality and religion is sometimes presented in overly simplistic terms, and Guzikowski hedges his bets by using the fictional Mithraic religion (named for a Roman mystery religion) rather than an existing faith tradition, which makes the show’s philosophical debates a bit toothless. — Josh Bell, CBR

The Mithraics are portrayed as warmongers who set out to crush atheists in the name of Sol, their god, and are essentially holy crusaders from space, right down to their knightly armor. Their faith is cultish and infectious, presenting discussions about religion’s place in humanity, and though they espouse virtuous living, they contradict their beliefs with self-preservation and violence — Tim Surette, TV Guide


IT’S THE TYPE OF OPERATIC SCI-FI RIDLEY SCOTT FANS WILL LOVE

Raised by Wolves is sci-fi television of a rare breed. While premium cable and streaming services have been raising the bar in the genre for years, Raised by Wolves leaps ahead in craft, scale, and vision. Its novelistic storytelling and slow-burn pacing ask much of its audience, but it offers rewards in kind. For those willing to engage, Raised by Wolves is a stunning work of operatic science fiction that will linger in your mind well after the credits of each episode roll. — Jamie Lovett, ComicBook.com

Replicants, Synthetics & Androids – oh my! After Blade Runner & Alien, Ridley Scott again visits the world of artificial life, with equally fascinating and thrilling results. — Grace Randolph, Beyond the Trailer


FINAL THOUGHTS?

Raised by Wolves Key Art

Watching “Raised by Wolves,” you feel a certain gratitude that someone can still make sci-fi projects like this, that creatives can keep tinkering with our thoughts of the future while reflecting modern themes back at us. — Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

It’s a show that throws concept after concept at the wall, though in Scott’s seasoned hands, the vast majority of them stick, setting the stage for one of the most interesting sci-fi shows in years…To put it simply, Raised By Wolves is peak Ridley Scott. — Siddhant Adlakha, IGN Movies

Hands down the most thrilling original sci-fi show in more than a decade. — Meghan O’Keefe, Decider

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